Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1998


Civil juries, Corporate defendants, Anti-business jury bias, Excessive jury awards, Civil Trial Court Network Project, Deep pockets hypothesis


Business Organizations Law | Litigation


Business leaders have voiced the opinion that they are often victimized by civil juries, who rule against them more on the basis of deep-seated hostility to business than on the grounds of actual negligence. Claims that the jury engages in undeservedly negative treatment of the business corporation have been central to heated debate over the role of the jury and its place in an alleged litigation crisis, which in turn has fueled tort reform efforts across the nation. This Article contrasts the illusions and realities of jurors' treatment of corporate defendants in civil litigation.

In this Article, I argue that the simplistic illusion of the anti-business jury fails to accord with a much more complex reality. Reflecting the citizenry from which they are drawn, civil jurors are largely supportive of the aims of American business and extremely concerned about the potential negative effects on business corporations of excessive litigation. At the same time, they hold corporate defendants to more exacting standards compared to individual litigants, and expect businesses to exhibit a high degree of care for workers and consumers. The application of this distinctive standard appears to be consistent with the political function of the American jury.

Publication Citation

De Paul Law Review, vol. 48, no. 2 (Winter 1998).